29 November 2009

Sunday Morning Praise - First Sunday in Advent

I can't believe that the Advent season is already upon us! Praise God for this time when we not only rejoice in remembering His first coming to Earth, but let us remember to also take this season (and every season!) to anticipate His Second Coming! Christ is returning for His church...SOON! More and more signs continue to explode around us. Signs that are positioning this world for the circumstances described in Revelation--the Tribulation. So if those pieces are falling into place, we can only imagine how near are the footsteps of our Lord as He comes to take His bride, the church, to be with Him forever before those great days of wrath begin! Are you anticipating that day? I am! I long to hear the trumpet call! And so I say, O come, Emmanuel...

26 November 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store in His garner evermore.

Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified, in Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home.

Top Ten Thanks

Well, today's the day! Happy Thanksgiving! As expected God revealed many seemingly "small" things to me for which I can be exceedingly grateful! I hope you took the time to seriously review your blessings over the past week as well. At the very least, do not neglect to thank Him today not just for your family and your health and your meal, but for Himself and for His sacrifice and for the undeserved gift of grace and salvation to you and to me, who are nothing more than wretched sinners. But don't let the sun rise tomorrow and you re-adopt a blasé attitude toward the God of this universe and your Savior. Thank Him always and for all.

Rejoice always;
pray without ceasing;
in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Today's Top Ten Thanks
  1. I am thankful for a splintered, blood-splattered cross.
  2. I am thankful for the mercy and love of Christ which was never displayed more abundantly than when the nails pierced His hands and feet.
  3. I am thankful for the perfect, blameless, yet substitutionary sacrifice of my Lord so that I, a wretched, pitiful, sinful, hopeless woman, can rest peacefully in grace and salvation.
  4. I am thankful for the Holy Spirit who convicts me of sin, urges me to repentance, and daily nourishes my faith and strengthens my walk with God.
  5. I am thankful for the assurance that He foreknew me and that I can never be cast out.
  6. I am thankful for a "misplaced" stone and an empty tomb for Jesus Christ has defeated death that we might never taste its bitterness!
  7. I am thankful for the unfathomable promise of eternity with God!
  8. I am thankful for God's Word and that it contains all that we need to know and understand! Sola Scriptura!
  9. I am thankful that I am a slave (doulos) of Jesus Christ for if I were to own my life I would surely lose it! I only pray that I bring my Master glory!
  10. I am thankful for the final promise of Christ, "Surely I am coming soon."

Thursday's Spurgeon

With today being Thanksgiving, this excerpt seemed appropriate. Do not forget today to thank your Lord!

The infinite and atoning God

My brethren, when in the stillness of the starry night we look up to the orbs of heaven, and remember the marvelous truths which astronomy has revealed to us, of the magnificence, the inconceivable majesty of creation, if we then reflect that the infinite God who made all these became man for us, and that as man he was fastened to the transverse wood, and bled to death for us, why it will appear to us that if all the stars were crowded with inhabitants, and all those inhabitants had everyone been rebellious against God, and had steeped themselves up to the very throat in scarlet crimes, there must be efficacy enough in the blood of such a one as God himself incarnate to take all their sins away.... If thou believest in him it is done, for to trust him is to be clean.

From a sermon entitled "The Centurion's Faith And Humility," delivered March 15, 1868. Image by Jeff under Creative Commons License.

25 November 2009

Top Ten Thanks

  1. I am thankful for my best friend, my mom!
  2. I am thankful for safe travel yesterday.
  3. I am thankful for God's sovereignty and omniscience.
  4. I am thankful for pastors who preach the TRUE Gospel, whether in or out of season!
  5. I am thankful for a warm house that protects me from the cold air and rain.
  6. I am thankful for a torn curtain.
  7. I am thankful for the anticipation of an eternity with Christ!
  8. I am thankful for toasted pumpkin seeds and again thankful for my mom who carved many pumpkins to get to those seeds!
  9. I am thankful for the morning fog that made Chicago so pretty and interesting yesterday morning.
  10. I am thankful for restful nights, and for a God who sustains me even when my body is weak and tired.

24 November 2009

To Sign or Not to Sign?

A lot of people have been applauding some evangelical leaders for signing the recent Manhattan Declaration. While I greatly respect some of the now-signatories, I have to say that I disagree with their choice to add their names to this document. I unequivocally agree with the document's stance on the social issues it addresses (sanctity of human life, sanctity of marriage, and religions liberty). However, I disagree with the fact that these social issues have been placed ahead of this country's true problem, which is a nonexistent or anemic (at best) understanding and view of and respect for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let's stand up and declare the Biblical Gospel as we are called to do by Jesus Himself. This is, after all, the only thing that will save a dying individual, or a dying nation.

Moreover, by formally attaching their names to this document, evangelical leaders have now aligned themselves with two groups who, like it or not, do not preach the same Biblical gospel. The Manhattan Declaration has been signed by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Christians. And yet in the document, all are lumped together as "Christians" and "we". It's only natural then that all who see Dr. Al Mohler's name (who I greatly respect, by the way and whose reasons for signing the declaration can be found here) on this document will assume he holds to similar faith traditions as the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox and yet I think it's safe to say that his Southern Baptist background would heartily disagree with many of the doctrines of both of these groups! Do you see the danger? Oh, we have to be so careful to remain purely in the Truth and purely aligned with the Truth in all things!

Dr. John MacArthur states his objections to signing the Manhattan Declaration far better than I ever could.  You can read his statement here.

Will I forever banish these evangelical leaders and their teachings from my iPod playlist? No. But I will continue to be discerning as we all must do in these dwindling days.

Are Emergents Open Minded? Hardly.

No, members of the Emergent movement are not open minded, at least not when it comes to Christians who hold to the Truths of the Bible. I'm sure they'd be more than willing to "converse" (their term, not  mine) if I was an atheist, or a Buddhist (of course then we'd have lots of things in common!), or even a Catholic. Below is an article from The Crosstalk Blog revealing just one more example of how, ahem, "open minded" the Emergents are.

Brian McLaren Paints Critics as Gay-Hating Bigots
Emergent author Brian McLaren doesn’t believe in a literal Second Coming of Jesus. He has problems with the penal substitutionary atonement of Jesus on the cross. A literal hell with eternal torment for those who reject Christ? Not likely. The Genesis account of the fall of man? Not true. But instead of addressing his own spiritual rebellion, Brian appears to want to paint his critics as bigots. In a recent blog post, McLaren demands that what he calls “discernment websites” (he used the quote marks) address an African country’s attempts to codify severe penalties for homosexuality into law. He seems to imply that these same “discernment ministries” would automatically support the arrest and execution of gays by Uganda.

I’m not sure what influence McLaren was under while blogging, but for the record, Brian, that’s a pretty nasty strategy to use against those who point to your heretical doctrinal views. While emergents supposedly are intellectual, open-minded people who enjoy conversations with subtle nuances and lots of mystery, McLaren actually sees things in black and white. Anyone who is not willing to jettison cardinal doctrine and embrace his “new kind of Christianity” is painted as ready to commit hate crimes and would support mistreating gays. What an appallingly dishonest way to deal with your critics, McLaren.

Mr. McLaren is helping create a new kind of Christianity that will turn on the old Christianity (the 2000-year-old kind that originated with Jesus Christ) and help create the basis to prosecute the old (biblical) Christians for committing hate crimes. The ADL sent out a press release this morning announcing that hate crimes are just endemic, exploding everywhere you turn, and that something must be done about it. Now that the laws are in place in Washington, Brian McLaren can get busy trying to portray biblical Christians as dangerous, militant wing-nuts who foment hatred against gays and other religions. Consider your strategy exposed, Brian. Our love for the souls of homosexuals is the same love we have for all who need to hear of the saving grace and forgiveness of sins found in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. And all the dishonest emergents will never be able to stifle that powerful, life-changing message.
The phrase ‘the Second Coming of Christ’ never actually appears in the Bible. Whether or not the doctrine to which the phrase refers deserves rethinking, a popular abuse of it certainly needs to be named and rejected.
–Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change, p. 144

Top Ten Thanks

  1. I am thankful that I get to see my Mom today!
  2. I am thankful for a job that allows me to work from anywhere, if necessary.
  3. I am thankful for the hope God offers us through Jesus Christ.
  4. I am thankful for the Law that convicts and the Gospel that saves!
  5. I am thankful that God has given us all we need to be discerning of those who preach a false gospel.
  6. I am thankful for whoever baked the first pumpkin pie because they are delicious!
  7. I am thankful that I can freely attend church or Bible study without fear (for now, anyway).
  8. I am thankful that God is sovereign because, without that truth, life on this earth today would be terrifying!
  9. I am thankful for Isaiah 9:6, one of the most beautiful Messianic prophecies in Scripture!
  10. I am thankful for my nephew and for this adorable picture of him that makes me smile each time I look at it (his great-Grandpa would be so proud that his daddy is grooming him to be a Packers fan)!

23 November 2009

Top Ten Thanks

  1. I am thankful for crisp, Fall morning air!
  2. I am thankful for the way God expands my time when I offer it to Him.
  3. I am thankful for the ministry of Dr. John MacArthur.
  4. I am thankful for whatever tree is planted in front of our office building that bears clusters of red berries in the Fall and Winter--they bring such a beautiful shock of color to a drab morning!
  5. I am thankful for John Calvin and the other Reformers.
  6. I am thankful for Hebrews 9:28.
  7. I am thankful for holidays that lead to short work weeks and canceled meetings!
  8. I am thankful for relaxing Sunday evenings that God uses to prepare me for Monday morning!
  9. I am thankful for grace!
  10. I am thankful that God always proves Himself to be so real and sovereign!

22 November 2009

Sunday Morning Praise

In honor of Thanksgiving week, I thought I'd post "Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart." I admit, it's not the deepest, most profound song. And it's basically two lines repeated over and over, but it was stuck in my head last night and it seemed appropriate for the holiday! In the end, let us not forget to give thanks, not just for the many blessings He's given us, but for the ultimate gift, Jesus Christ! Thank you God, for your Son and thank you, Jesus, for the cross!

Because I can never leave you with a simple chorus, here is the beautiful hymn "O God, Our Help in Ages Past" written by Isaac Watts (I love the scenery in this video!). Let us remember these truths as our country continues to push itself further and further away from the God it once loved.

Top Ten Thanks

  1. I am thankful for the great hymn writers of the past who understood that song and doctrine didn't have to be separate!
  2. I am thankful for [slightly unhealthy] dinners out with Dad, and for the memories he shares!
  3. I am thankful for crisp, morning runs spent with God in His creation!
  4. I am thankful for the smile God gives me on every one of those runs; yesterday's was a squirrel running in front of me with a mouthful of leaves for his nest!
  5. I am thankful that I can come before God daily with only Christ as my mediator.
  6. I am thankful for answered prayers.
  7. I am thankful for moments of sadness when missing my grandparents, because it reminds me that I will see them again very soon!
  8. I am thankful for whoever invented the camera so we can capture memories!
  9. I am thankful that the Holy Spirit convicts.
  10. I am thankful that God has given me another day on this Earth to proclaim His glory!

21 November 2009

Top Ten Thanks

  1. I am thankful for my home.
  2. I am thankful for the promise of my heavenly home!
  3. I am thankful for pennies that I find on the ground, because they remind me of my grandpa!
  4. I am thankful for the promises of John 6:35-40.
  5. I am thankful for a working body (even though every year there's a new reminder that I'm getting older!)
  6. I am thankful for the promise of a perfect heavenly body!
  7. I am thankful for the desires God has placed in my heart...and thankful that He took so many worldly desires away!
  8. I am thankful that God has given me this ministry!
  9. I am thankful for the eyes to look back and see how God has been working in my life.
  10. I am thankful that I can know that I am never alone and there is One who will never leave or forsake me!
Take a little extra time this morning and thank God for the countless blessings He's given you! After three days of listing the things I am thankful for, I really have to encourage you to make your own [long] list! You'd be amazed the things that come to mind when you are challenged to go beyond the obvious!

God bless you in this day and don't forget to praise HIM!

20 November 2009

Top Ten Thanks

  1. I am thankful that God has allowed me to live in these exciting Last Days!
  2. I am thankful for those early morning moments, immediately after waking, when I can pray for God's guidance and direction for the day.
  3. I am thankful for God's Word.
  4. I am thankful for the Holy Spirit who helps me to understand God's Word.
  5. I am thankful for the amazing Christian friends God has placed in my life. They are women I can trust to pray for and with me, women who encourage me, and women whose faith and walks with God I desire to emulate.
  6. I am thankful for 24 hour Christmas music radio stations! :)
  7. I am thankful for a Thanksgiving memory of Chinese food with my brother!
  8. I am thankful for the job God has placed me in.
  9. I am thankful for my Bible study.
  10. I am thankful for breaks in the clouds (both literal and figurative) so that the sun and the Son can shine through!

An Extra Dose of Spurgeon

Well, you can never have too much truth, right?

Titus 3:9
Avoid foolish questions.

Our days are few, and are far better spent in doing good, than in disputing over matters which are, at best, of minor importance. The old schoolmen did a world of mischief by their incessant discussion of subjects of no practical importance; and our Churches suffer much from petty wars over abstruse points and unimportant questions. After everything has been said that can be said, neither party is any the wiser, and therefore the discussion no more promotes knowledge than love, and it is foolish to sow in so barren a field. Questions upon points wherein Scripture is silent; upon mysteries which belong to God alone; upon prophecies of doubtful interpretation; and upon mere modes of observing human ceremonials, are all foolish, and wise men avoid them. Our business is neither to ask nor answer foolish questions, but to avoid them altogether; and if we observe the apostle's precept (Titus 3:8) to be careful to maintain good works, we shall find ourselves far too much occupied with profitable business to take muc h interest in unworthy, contentious, and needless strivings. There are, however, some questions which are the reverse of foolish, which we must not avoid, but fairly and honestly meet, such as these: Do I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Am I renewed in the spirit of my mind? Am I walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit? Am I growing in grace? Does my conversation adorn the doctrine of God my Saviour? Am I looking for the coming of the Lord, and watching as a servant should do who expects his master? What more can I do for Jesus? Such enquiries as these urgently demand our attention; and if we have been at all given to cavilling, let us now turn our critical abilities to a service so much more profitable. Let us be peace-makers, and endeavour to lead others both by our precept and example, to "avoid foolish questions."

19 November 2009

Top Ten Thanks

In the spirit of Thanksgiving being only a week away, I thought I'd embark on an endeavor of thankfulness! For the next week, I'm going to daily post ten things for which I am thankful to God. He has blessed me mightily and yet I think we so often forget to thank Him, maybe not for the "big" things in our lives, but even for the seemingly small, yet incredibly important things. I think this will be interesting. I will undoubtedly begin with the most obvious blessings, so by next week I will either be deleting this original post and hoping that all of my readers will forget about my efforts, or I will be even more in awe of the multiple blessings my God has given me. I'm really hoping for the latter! I also know that some items on my lists will sound silly, but in reality, I am still thankful for even these! I invite you to join me in this! Feel free to post a comment or email me with the things that you're thankful for in your life!

And now, here are today's Top Ten Thanks (In no particular order. Well, #1 is my #1!)
  1.  I am thankful that He has chosen me!
  2. I am thankful for rainy mornings that refresh the Earth, even if they do make me want to stay in bed a bit longer!
  3. I am thankful for quick reflexes (seriously) so that I was only almost side-swiped on the way to work this morning!
  4. I am thankful for the promise of continual sanctification.
  5. I am thankful that I still live in a country where I can wear a cross necklace to work and have a Bible at my desk (for now anyway).
  6. I am thankful for the holiday season and the sweet memories that it invokes!
  7. I am thankful for hot coffee every  morning, because I know that there are many people in the world who would consider that a luxury.
  8. I am thankful for God-fearing parents who have helped to lead me in the way of the Lord.
  9. I am thankful for the promises of Psalm 103:11-13.
  10. I am thankful that God has entrusted me with my two adorable kitties!

Thursday's Spurgeon

If you enjoy the bold, honest, God-honoring writings and teachings of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, then you may want to subscribe to the blog The Daily Spurgeon.

Have We Been Faithful?
Dear friends, let us pause and ask ourselves, as believers, whether we have been in all respects conscientiously attentive to our Master’s commands? If not, we may not expect Him to send a blessing to the church or to the world through us, until first of all we have yielded our willing obedience to that which He has prescribed for us. Are any of you living in the neglect of a known part of the divine will? Or are you undesirous of knowing some portions of God’s will, and therefore willfully blind to them? My dear brother, you are cutting the Achilles’ tendon of your strength. You can never overthrow your enemies like Samson while your locks are thus shorn. You cannot expect that God should send you forth to conquer and to bring to Him renown, when you have not as yet conquered your own personal indolence and disobedience. He that is unfaithful in that which is least will be unfaithful in that which is greater; and if you have not kept the Master’s saying in the little vineyard of your personal history, how much less shall you be able to do it if He should entrust you with a greater field of service!

From a sermon entitled "Joshua's Vision," delivered February 16, 1868.

18 November 2009

Alpha Exposed: Part 3b

As I explained in Alpha Exposed: Part 1, the Alpha Course has its dangerous roots in the demonic movement known as the Toronto Blessing. I came across the following thoughts from John MacArthur regarding the Toronto Blessing and thought I would share them. The original resource can be found here. Though the Toronto Blessing has fizzled out, similar movements that value emotion over Truth and Scripture are still running rampant in our churches. I pray this continues to raise your awareness about these dangerously disguised deceptions.

1 Corinthians 14

What are your thoughts on the Toronto Blessing? 

The apostle Paul was very clear in pointing out that "God is not a God of confusion" (1 Cor. 14:33). Where pandemonium rules, we can be certain God is not the author of it.

"You're limiting God," many advocates of the Toronto movement will say.

No, God can do whatever he wills. But He will not deny Himself. He will not mystically reveal Himself to us as someone different from the holy God the Scriptures reveal. Since the Bible tells us He is not the author of confusion--and specifically that He does not approve of disorder in public worship services (this is the whole point of 1 Corinthians 14)—we can know with absolute certainty that He is not the power behind a movement whose main features are hysteria, tumult, and frenzy.

More important, the Scriptures reveal Him as the Spirit of truth (John 14:17), who bears witness not of Himself but of Christ (15:26), who speaks not on His own initiative, but guides us into truth (16:13), and sanctifies us in the truth. Where is this sanctifying truth found? Not through mystical means. God's Word is the truth through which we are sanctified (17:17). This means that one of the Holy Spirit's primary ministries is to convey the truth of Scripture to our understanding. Nothing in Scripture indicates that He works by stirring up our emotions while bypassing our minds.

According to 1 Corinthians 14, this is precisely why Paul valued prophecy more than tongues: "For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God; for no one understands ... But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation" (vv. 2-3, emphasis added). "If I come to you speaking in tongues, what shall I profit you, unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching?" (v. 6). The point is to communicate truth. Ministry that bypasses the understanding is pointless: "If the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle?" (v. 8). All the gifts are meant to edify, which is an expression Paul uses to speak of ministering to the mind (v. 3). That is why Paul insisted that tongues be interpreted. "So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church" (v. 12, emphasis added).

When the laughing revival has run its course, what will be next? How can a movement stoked by the heat of raw passion rekindle the flames when people's emotions finally grow cold?

Those who really know Christ and love Him must come back to the truth of His Word.

Adapted from John MacArthur, Reckless Faith (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 1995). 

15 November 2009

You, You, and More You!

I subscribe to Joel Osteen's podcast. Don't ask me why. Whatever the reason, it's probably the same one that drives me to follow my favorite heretics on Twitter. There's nothing more fulfilling than beating your head against the wall out of pure frustration!

I think I initially subscribed to Osteen's oh-so-uplifting messages in the hopes that I would one day sit down and, sentence by sentence, refute his sick and twisted "gospel" message. I'm not sure why I haven't gotten around to that yet, but it probably has something to do with the fact that I can't listen to Osteen for more than five minutes before I'm screaming at my TV or computer in utter exasperation! Anyway, I took a glance today to see what I've been missing and I wanted to share some of the ear-tickling titles of his most recent sermons. You'll notice that they seem to have a common theme: YOU.
  • October 29, 2009 - "Your Destiny Supersedes Your Mistakes" (I have to admit, this is intriguing. Will Osteen teach about our "destiny" as forgiveness in Jesus Christ through grace, faith, and the repentance of sins? Or will he teach me about the other destiny that he likes to talk about: the one where God apparently wants us all to be rich and famous?)
  • October 21, 2009 - "God's Hand is Outstretched Toward You" (Oooh, I wonder what He's going to give me?)
  • October 15, 2009 - "Increasing Your Capacity to Receive" (Gimme, Gimme, Gimme!)
  • October 8, 2009 - You Are Blessed and Cannot Be Cursed" (You are blessed. Just because you're poor and unemployed doesn't mean that you won't soon be rich! Speak it, pray it, command God to give you money! Sadly, those thoughts aren't a stretch from what Osteen teaches each week.)
  • October 1, 2009 - "Being Pruned So You Can Bloom" (Another one that may have potential promise, perhaps speaking of the sanctification process after we hear and receive the free gift of grace and forgiveness from our crucified and risen Savior? Or do I need to "prune" my negative thoughts away so I can be ready for all those material blessings that God promises me in the Bible? Of course, I have yet to find those verses that promise material wealth, health, and prosperity. I guess I need to go out and buy Joel's version.)
  • September 24, 2009 - "Programming Your Mind for Victory" (Huh?)
  • September 3, 2009 - "Believing for a Supernatural Year" (I may have seen this one on TV late one night. Joel taught me that God wants to make me rich this year. I'm still waiting. He's only got a few weeks left...)
  • August 20, 2009 - "You Have Inside Information" (Uh-oh, this isn't going to be like insider trading and land me in jail, is it?)
I may have to listen to this past week's message, "Silencing the Voice of the Accuser." Were I a betting person, I'd wager that Pastor Osteen will teach me how to quiet that voice that tells me that my wealth and prosperity is never really going to arrive.

I'm surprised that Osteen hasn't yet developed his own monetary version of Benny Hinn's "bodies hit the floor" method. I guess he's still figuring out a way for money to appear out of thin air. Give him time.

Alpha Exposed: Part 3

I apologize that it's taken so long for me to produce Part 3 of this series of articles. I've been distracted and, quite honestly, wasn't sure how to go about presenting the multiple dangerous ties of friendship that Nicky Gumbel possesses. Even as I type this, I'm not sure where God will take the following paragraphs! My only motive is to expose Gumbel as one who maintains relationships with many men who should be considered quite questionable individuals, at least by any Bible-believing Christian. Without going into detail about any of the following men, please consider the following connections between Nicky Gumbel and:

  • Tony Blair. This man, a recent Catholic convert, is quite possibly the world's greatest proponent of globalism today. Through the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, he is striving not only for a world religion, but also world government, and world peace (hello, Bible prophecy!). You can see a recent interview Gumbel did with Blair here. Interestingly, Blair is being heavily touted as the front runner to become the first permanent president of the EU. That decision will be made this week, on November 19.
  • Rick Warren. "America's [apostate] Pastor" has heavily endorsed Gumbel's Alpha Course. Also interesting? Warren holds a seat on the Religious Advisory Council for Blair's Faith Foundation (a council that is made up of multiple religions, further proving that global religion is the goal!).
  • Bill Hybels. We all know how I feel about Bill Hybels and his seeker-sensitive Willow Creek Church! Remember, I speak from personal experience when it comes to Willow Creek and I can say with certainty that it is a church focused on the social gospel, not the Lord's gospel. There is no conviction coming from the pulpit. In fact, there is no pulpit! There is a stage and they put on a show. That's it. Hybels offers his praise to the deceptive course in saying, "Alpha is one of the best known evangelistic programs in the world.  I don't think anyone rejoices more in its effectiveness than I do." Online Source.
  • Tony Campolo. Oh, where do I begin?! I'll keep this brief and say that Campolo is one of the leaders of the Emerging Church movement. You can find multiple articles about him at Apprising Ministries. Campolo says about Alpha, "The Alpha Course is intelligent, biblically based, and incredibly interesting....For the inquiring mind, there is nothing better around the world than the Alpha course." Online Source. Now, if Tony Campolo thinks that the Alpha Course is Biblically based, then we have a problem, because Campolo himself has difficulty properly understand God's Word!
  • Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. His words about Alpha? "What Alpha has to offer is a unique mixture of Christian content and Christian style.  I recommend it...as a very special tool of evangelism." Online Source. What does this even mean? "Christian content and Christian style?" Remember, Williams is an Anglican bishop...hopefully that will clear things up! Oh, and Williams is also a buddy of Blair and his Faith Foundation.
  • Joel Hunter. Ah, yes, Joel Hunter. He leads a mega church in the Orlando area, Northland, A Church Distributed. You can read more about Northland's efforts with Alpha in my article, Alpha Exposed: Part 2b. The 2009 Alpha National Conference was held at Northland. But why does any of this matter? Joel Hunter is considered one of Barack Obama's "Faith Leaders"! Well, we're sitting under the most anti-Christian administration in our country's history, so apparently Hunter isn't having much influence. Or, could it be that Hunter is just as liberal in his values as our president? This article indicates that Hunter, among other things, holds little if any pro-life view. Forgive me, but I desperately fail to see how one can claim to be a Christian and not uphold the sanctity of an innocent unborn human life. Hunter is even such a friend of liberals that he was invited to give the prayer at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. So tell me, if Gumbel decided to hold his national Alpha Conference at Hunter's church, doesn't one naturally assume that the two men share similar ideals and beliefs? Yeah, I thought so... 
I'm sure that, given more time, I could provide more names that would cause discomfort and unease. Among these already listed, do not forget that the Catholic Church heavily praises and uses the Alpha Course. There even exists a specially designed Catholic Alpha Course! If the Catholic Church is in agreement with something that claims to be Christian, then we have to seriously question the validity of that Christian claim! Catholicism is a religion of works and idolatry and does not preach the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. For Catholics to embrace Alpha, it must be very non-threatening to their beliefs, and that means that Alpha is failing to properly proclaim the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins! But what do Catholics believe in? Besides salvation by works, they hold to many mystical beliefs and practices. (For example, this paragraph in the Catholic Catechism encouraging contemplative, meditative prayer.) We've seen from Alpha Exposed: Part 1 that the Alpha Course is deeply rooted in dangerous, even demonic, mystical forces, so the jump to Catholicism is not that far.

Finally, let me acknowledge that I have taken the time to listen to some of Gumbel's "sermons" that he has preached at Holy Trinity Brompton. While he failed to quote the Bible more than once or twice (and then took Scripture grossly out of context), he found time to often quotemen like Emergent Church leader Rob Bell and, even better, found multiple instances where he could quote Barack Obama. Gumbel preaches a social gospel and fails to preach the TRUE gospel. Are Christians called to feed the poor, etc? Absolutely. But if I fail to also share the good news of Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected for the forgiveness of sins, then all I have done is helped send someone to Hell with a full stomach. Our first call as Christians is not to end poverty, sickness, "global warming" and the like. Our first duty as Christians is to proclaim the Gospel. And I fear that Nicky Gumbel has misunderstood that call.

In the end, all false teachings are interconnected in one big deceptive web. One of the biggest connectors is the practice of contemplative prayer, encouraging people to empty their minds and respond to their emotions and the supposed voice of God that they may hear. This is the perfect opportunity for the Enemy and his minions to enter in and take over. For further illustration, see the picture below. It can also be accessed within the Bayith Ministries article, The Dragnet Behind Alpha, Vineyard, ‘Purpose-Driven’, ‘Toronto’ etc.

I hope that, if nothing else I've raised a bit of a red flag for you concerning the Alpha Course and Nicky Gumbel. Sure, it sounds good. What could be better than a non-threatening, easy-going approach to the Gospel? But we must be so discerning! We must test everything against Scripture! Sadly, nowadays, we must test our churches, their sermons, their leaders, their activities, more than ever before. Liberal, unoffensive Christianity is rapidly replacing the Truth. Follow the example of Jesus and point fingers where you know the Gospel is being twisted. Speak boldly against forces of darkness disguised as angels of light! And pray, dear brothers and sisters! Pray for courage, for wisdom, and for discernment. Above all else pray for protection in these last days. And keep looking up, for our redemption draweth nigh!

But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. Luke 21:28 (NASB)

Sunday Morning Praise

I may have posted these songs in the past, but they're two of my favorites, so enjoy them!

We sang "Holy, Holy, Holy" at my Bible study early this week and I knew that night that I wanted to use it for this morning's praise. This video is particularly fun because it feeds the Charlton Heston fan in all of us...

And now quite possibly one of the most famous and best-loved hymns ever, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God!" Keeping with the theme of Steve Green, his powerful voice lends even more beauty to this piece:

I pray you have a blessed Lord's Day!

12 November 2009

Spurgeon for Thursday

Deuteronomy 33:27
Underneath are the everlasting arms.

God-the eternal God-is Himself our support at all times, and especially when we are sinking in deep trouble. There are seasons when the Christian sinks very low in humiliation. Under a deep sense of his great sinfulness, he is humbled before God till he scarcely knows how to pray, because he appears, in his own sight, so worthless. Well, child of God, remember that when thou art at thy worst and lowest, yet "underneath" thee "are everlasting arms." Sin may drag thee ever so low, but Christ's great atonement is still under all. You may have descended into the deeps, but you cannot have fallen so low as "the uttermost"; and to the uttermost He saves. Again, the Christian sometimes sinks very deeply in sore trial from without. Every earthly prop is cut away. What then? Still underneath him are "the everlasting arms." He cannot fall so deep in distress and affliction but what the covenant grace of an ever-faithful God will still encircle him. The Christian may be sinking under trouble from within through fierce conflict, but even then he cannot be brought so low as to be beyond the reach of the "everlasting arms"-they are underneath him; and, while thus sustained, all Satan's efforts to harm him avail nothing. This assurance of support is a comfort to any weary but earnest worker in the service of God. It implies a promise of strength for each day, grace for each need, and power for each duty. And, further, when death comes, the promise shall still hold good. When we stand in the midst of Jordan, we shall be able to say with David, "I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me." We shall descend into the grave, but we shall go no lower, for the eternal arms prevent our further fall. All through life, and at its close, we shall be upheld by the "everlasting arms"-arms that neither flag nor lose their strength, for "the everlasting God fainteth not, neither is weary."
 C.H. Spurgeon, "Morning by Morning"

11 November 2009

Christian or "Christ Follower"?

Christian or "Christ Follower": is there a difference? I'd argue that there is and it's more dangerous than most former Christians, current "Christ Followers" would want to admit. I've been hearing this new term more and more frequently. I first saw it in the ever-enlightening works of the Emerging Church leaders. Well, right there is cause for concern! But then, ever so subtly I began hearing it from the mouths of everyday, presumably grounded Christians. Do I blame them? Perhaps only for their lack of discernment. The larger piece of the blame belongs to their church leaders who have bowed to the post-modern language of the Emergents, whether they've done so consciously or not. We repeat what we hear from our trusted pastors and church leaders, which is why we're called to be discerning even with those men who we've trusted to lead us for so long.

So what's the big deal? Who cares anyway? Don't the terms mean the same thing? NO. Think about it. Lots of people have been gullible enough to buy into the argument that Jesus was just "a good man" and a "good model" and a "good leader." But these same people would never acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. And so, couldn't one be a "Christ Follower," following His moral example, etc without ever confessing Him as Lord? Absolutely. But would that same person ever call himself a Christian? Perish the thought! To be a Christian means to have repented of your sin and to have accepted the free gift of grace and salvation offered to us through Christ's substitutionary death on the cross! It means that you have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit Himself and that you are now identified as a child of the one and only God of the universe. No my friend, to be a Christ Follower is not necessarily to be a Christian.

The article below from Lighthouse Trails Research explains further how the term "Christ Follower" came to be. It's beginnings lie in the subtly seductive practice of contemplative spirituality, listening prayer, meditation, and the like. Get ready, Christian, to be on the lookout for these mere "Christ Followers."

Christian or "Christ Follower"?
Christian or Christ-follower. It's a distinction that is being made more and more today, and often the latter term, Christ follower, is replacing the former term, Christian. Even many Christian leaders are making the switch. But just what does it mean? Emerging church leader, Erwin McManus says his "goal is to destroy Christianity as a world religion and be a recatalyst for the movement of Jesus Christ." In McManus' book, The Barbarian Way, he talks about being "awakened" to a "primal longing that ... waits to be unleashed within everyone who is a follower of Jesus Christ." McManus says that the "greatest enemy to the movement of Jesus Christ is Christianity [i.e., Christians]." A video series on YouTube.com called "Christian No More" (by Christian Community Church) exemplifies this view by portraying those who call themselves Christians as shallow church-goers who wear suits and ties, have Christian bumper stickers on their cars and prefer the King James Version. This belittling video is evidence that it is increasingly more popular to call oneself a Christ follower rather than a Christian.

Interestingly, most of those leaders who seem to be downplaying the name Christian and promoting the appropriation of the term "Christ follower" are contemplative spirituality proponents. One contemplative advocate, Rick Warren, has the term throughout his pastors.com website. Lee Strobel refers to it in his book Case for Christ (Student Edition), and Wesleyan pastor David Drury has a Christ-Follower Pop Quiz on his web site to help determine if you are really a "Christ Follower."

This theme of anti-"Christian" sentiment is not going to disappear any time soon. Emerging church leader and labyrinth promoter Dan Kimball has a new book coming out next spring called, "They Like Jesus, But Not the Church". The idea is that you can go for Jesus, but you don't have to identify yourself as a Christian or part of the Christian church. This concept spills over into some missionary societies too, where they teach people from other religions that they can keep their religion, just add Jesus to the equation. They don't have to embrace the term "Christian" (see The New Missiology).

So what's the problem? So what if you want to be a Christ follower instead of a Christian. Well, the problem, when identified, will show you why the Spiritual Formation movement (which is promoted by Purpose Driven, Willow Creek, the emerging church, etc) is so dangerous and misleading.

Let us explain. If you have researched the teachings of contemplative authors, you may have noticed a common message. That message says: If you want to be like Christ, then practice these certain disciplines and you can be like Him. Chuck Swindoll has bought into this when he wrote his book, So You Want to Be Like Christ: Eight Essential Disciplines to Get You There. But Swindoll exalts one particular discipline - the silence. In fact, he goes so far as to say you can't become a deep, meaningful Christian without it. Beth Moore, in the pro- contemplative film, Be Still, says: "[I]f we are not still before Him [God], we will never truly know to the depths of the marrow of our bones that He is God. There's got to be a stillness." And this is what contemplatives teach. The one common thread woven throughout spiritual formation teachings is that the silence and being a Christ follower are practically synonymous. You can't have one without the other. And of course, this silence is induced through meditative practices such as centering prayer, lectio divina, etc.

So what we are witnessing is countless teachers, authors and leaders telling people they can become like Christ through a method that can be learned. Richard Foster teaches that anyone, not just believers, can practice contemplative prayer and become like Christ.

Now here lies the difference between a Christian and a Christ-follower. A person who is truly born-again has Jesus Christ indwelling him. Jesus lives inside that person. And it is His life in him or her that gives the power to become progressively more like Him (sanctification), as Paul said in his address to Corinthian Christians: "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18). The believer draws his strength and power from Jesus Christ (who indwells him), and he realizes his salvation and any good thing in him is from Christ; as the Scripture says: "Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:9).

But being born again or having the indwelling of Jesus Christ is not a prerequisite for the Christendom of today. Spiritual formation can be practiced by anyone. Jesus becomes a model or an example who can be followed and mimicked. For example, Ken Blanchard, says Jesus is a perfect model to follow. That's why he talks so much about leading like Jesus would lead. But Blanchard has shown time and again that he believes meditation is a key factor in becoming like Jesus.

While Jesus was and is a model, that wasn't His primary mission. And when people refer to Him as a model, it is often because they see Him as a model for higher consciousness rather than the unique Son of God, Emmanuel (God with us) who came to die for us and be our Savior. And that's what you find across the board in contemplative writings. Contemplative icons Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen saw Jesus in this manner. This is why Nouwen said it disturbed him when he heard people say Jesus was the only way. He said it was his mission to help people find his or her own way to God (see Sabbatical Journey). That's also why he saw India as a source for many spiritual "treasures" for the Christian. 1 In an eastern religion like Buddhism, Buddha was a model where his followers were imitators of him. But in Christianity the Spirit of Christ indwells us through faith. So Jesus becomes more than a model; He is a living presence in us. "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebrews 11:6).

This is actually the heart of the whole spiritual formation movement. It supposedly teaches you how to be like Christ, but the power to do this doesn't come from Jesus Christ living in you (in fact that isn't a requirement, according to Richard Foster) - but the power to change has to come from somewhere. Where? It comes from meditation! So anyone at all, from any walk of life, from any religion, can be a "Christ follower." But this does not mean they have Jesus Christ in them. The contemplative prayer movement is misguiding millions into believing that if they practice certain disciplines they can be like Christ, thus securing their spiritual well being. They may come to believe that they have a christ consciousness and are Christ like, yet they do not have the actual power of Christ within. That power can only come from the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12).

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16).

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God (I Corinthians 1:18).

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come ... Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof" (II Timothy 3:1,5).

The man who virtually wrote the book on the subject (Centering Prayer), Basil Pennington, made the point of what we are trying to say when he penned these words:
It is my sense, from having meditated with persons from many different [non- Christian] traditions, that in the silence we experience a deep unity. When we go beyond the portals of the rational mind into the experience, there is only one God to be experienced.
Another major contemplative promoter stated:
The new ecumenism involved here is not between Christian and Christian, but between Christians and the grace of other intuitively deep religious traditions.--Tilden Edwards
These two men have both been leaders of the contemplative prayer movement for decades. And it is important to note that evangelical leader Richard Foster endorsed Edwards' book, Spiritual Friend, from which this last quote came (see back, Celebration of Discipline). Both Pennington and Edwards would call themselves Christ followers, following in the same spiritual path as Jesus Christ followed. But as you can see, both Pennington and Edwards do not accept the view that believing the gospel is a vital prerequisite for having a relationship with the living God. Otherwise they would not have said the above. With this mindset, the message of the cross is rendered useless. And so the question that we must ask ourselves is this: Will we, who have Jesus Christ living in us, call ourselves Christians? Let those of us who name the name of Christ, stand and say, yes, we will be called Christians.

For a complete analysis and documentation of contemplative spirituality and its infiltration into Christendom, we encourage you to read A Time of Departing.

When Students are Left for the Wolves

Thanks to Jan Markell of Olive Tree Ministries for writing and sharing the below article. Thanks to Bible Prophecy Today for also publishing it! I would highly recommend tuning in to Jan's radio show this coming weekend to hear more about this topic. You can either listen live online here or subscribe to the podcast here (podcasts are posted late Sunday night).

When Students Are Left for the Wolves
Jan MarkellBy Jan Markell

I wasn't prepared for what I was about to hear the evening of November 3. My alma mater, Bethel University in St. Paul, MN, sponsored an Inter-religious Symposium promoting some kind of "common ground" between Buddhism and Christianity. One would think if a Christian had an ounce of discernment, they would deduce that Christianity has nothing to do with Buddhism and such unions are playing with fire. But a panel concluded that there was "common ground" when it came to "meditation." Granted, this kind of meditation could put one in a dangerous altered state of consciousness, but maybe that's ok as long as we can find a bit of unity here! Some would call this common bond of meditation "contemplative prayer."

About 200 students and a few adults were crammed into the symposium auditorium. Attendance by the students was mandatory. The three main presenters were Buddhist monk Witiyala Seewalie from Sri Lanka, Bethel professor Paul Reasoner who is a part of the "Christian Zen" movement, and Ted Meissner, an active Buddhist layman and meditator in Zen, although he grew up in a Christian home.

The kind of meditation being promoted by the panelists is the kind that brings "enlightenment," whatever that means.

Ted Meissner described the goal of enlightenment to our daily growth and walk with Christ. Panelist Paul Reasoner did not particularly enlighten anyone to his area of interest,Christian Zen, so I am still clueless as to what that is. I think it's an attempt to again help people become Buddhist-friendly. It was clearly an emphasis on the blending of Christianity andBuddhism. With only about 20 minutes for questions, there was no way I was going to get a multitude of mine answered.

Doing a bit of research told me that Zen is a school or division of Buddhism characterized by techniques designed to produce enlightenment. This term is used repeatedly yet I have never seen such a line-up of unenlightened panelists! In particular, Zen emphasizes various sorts of meditative practices which are supposed to lead the practitioner to a direct insight into the fundamental character of reality - whatever that means! And if I don't fully get it, how are 20 year old college students supposed to get it? This one thing I do know: It doesn't mean getting to know the fundamental character of the one true God.

I was accompanied on this journey by Pastor Bob DeWaay from Twin City Fellowship in Minneapolis. He has contributed some thoughts to this summary of the event.

There was not one whit of "Christianity" that was presented to the Buddhist participating on the panel. This sent a message to him that he is OK being a Buddhist.

The push was "meditation." But being a Buddhist means becoming conscious of one's own divinity. This was not clarified. Had it been clarified, it could have sent out a huge red flag to questioning students at Bethel. So why would Christians get on board with this kind of meditative enlightenment when acknowledging one's own divinity for aChristian would be idolatry and an abomination to the one true God?

The students were encouraged to do meditation that would silence or empty their minds. Keep in mind that some who promote this kind of meditation such as Richard Foster, actually tell you to pray a prayer of protection over yourself before you begin! Yet there was no warning to innocent and naïve students and again, attendance for most there was mandatory.

We heard a lot about those ancient mystics and desert fathers. Here we go with the mystical again, and mysticism always trumps doctrine. Bring on "experience"!! Another panelist talked about the Jesuits he studied under. Is Bethel a Baptist-rooted university or Catholic-rooted? Try the former.

A symposium like this is leading these kids straight to the Emergent Church which goes along with all of the above. And if anything will bring spiritual death, it is all things Emergent. The step beyond that is the one-world religion. [You can hear the entire audio of the 75 minute symposium here.]

So now that we know some of what was talked about, what wasn't covered? With a Buddhist on the panel needing truth, Jesus Christ was not mentioned. Nothing of the gospel was talked about. Sin was left out as was a Christ-less eternity for those following the wrong path. Rather, all that was praised was some kind of glorious unity and mind expansion that could be achieved through Buddhistmeditation.

No one talked about the possibility of opening oneself up to demonic influence from emptying the mind in the wrong kind of meditation.

Let me be blunt and say that the meditation techniques promoted at the symposium were Eastern and unbiblical. They claimed that Christians could gain spiritual benefit by using Buddhistmeditation . What an affront to the Lord who inspired the Biblical writers. It was as if to say that God failed to give us what we need to draw near to God, but we can find what we need throughBuddhism.

A simple Scripture like Psalm 119:15 was never used: "I will meditate on your precepts and consider your ways," presenting a solid biblical statement on "meditation." Or meditating on God's wonders in verse 27. The psalmist meditated, that is, deliberated over God's Word in such a way that he was able to understand it.

It says in Psalm 19:14,
"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD."
This "meditation symposium" was not pleasing to the Lord.

I am reminded that there are students and faculty at Bethel University who meet regularly for prayer not using any kind of techniques. There is a ministry there called "Pray First" which focuses on the students. As one person said to me, "please also share that God's light is shining brightly in areas atBethel University."

This is not an attempt to castigate the entire university of teachers and students, many of whom are godly, righteous people. This column is not directed at them. It is directed at some careless faculty who are enthusiastic about their beliefs who should use better judgment than to presentBuddhism, "Christian Zen," and contemplative prayer as some good alternatives for the students.

08 November 2009

Sunday Morning Praise

By now you've noticed that I prefer the tried and true, theologically sound hymns over the flimsy repetitive praise songs that most churches sing these days. I am not, however, entirely against "contemporary" music...as long as it speaks the Truth of God in its lyrics. I believe this song does. "While You Were Sleeping" by Casting Crowns is usually only brought out at Christmastime, although I have no idea why! What an amazing song with an amazing message. So many will miss the return of Christ for His church  while they are caught up in the whirlwind of the world...while they're spiritually sleeping.

And for those of you who are used to seeing hymns here every week, I'd thought I'd continue the theme from Rapture to Second Coming. Here's a video of "Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending!" Originally written by John Cennick and later altered by Charles Wesley, it may not be the catchiest tune, but what a picture it paints! Lyrics are posted below.

Lo! He comes with clouds descending,
Once for favoured sinners slain;
Thousand thousand saints attending,
Swell the triumph of His train:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
God appears on earth to reign

Every eye shall now behold Him
Robed in dreadful majesty;
Those who set at naught and sold Him,
Pierced and nailed Him to the tree,
Deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
Shall the true Messiah see.

The dear tokens of His passion
Still His dazzling body bears;
Cause of endless exultation
To His ransomed worshippers;
With what rapture, with what rapture
Gaze we on those glorious scars!

Yea, amen; let all adore thee,
High on thine eternal throne;
Saviour, take the power and glory;
Claim the kingdoms for thine own:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Thou shalt reign, and thou alone.

Have a blessed Lord's Day!

06 November 2009

Shocking Youth Message

Have you heard Paul Washer's "Shocking Youth Message" yet? If so, here's a little background behind how it came to be:

If you haven't yet heard this message, I highly suggest listening to it! And if you have teenagers or kids, I suggest that you ask them to listen to it as well. Preached back in 2002, Paul Washer speaks a difficult and painful truth that all young people need to hear. He opens their eyes (and the eyes of all listening) to the fact that we cannot reconcile our walk with Christ and our walk with the world. We MUST choose. In the life of a teenager, choosing Christ can be a most difficult thing, because it means ridicule and shunning by their peers. I pray that you can talk to your children and help them to understand that it's better to be "unpopular" by the world's standards and to be righteous in the eyes of God than it is to bask in the earthly, temporary glow of worldly popularity. To be friends with the world is to be enemies with God (James 4:4). Do your children understand that sacrificing a relationship with Christ just to be "cool" could mean their eternity? I wonder how popular they will be in the fires of Hell...

05 November 2009

If Divine Election is True, Why Share the Gospel?

I was poking around on Mike Gendron's website, Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries, when I found this fantastic article explaining the doctrine of election. If this is a doctrine you struggle with, I suggest reading it.

Why Evangelize If God Has Already Chosen Who Will Be Saved?
This engaging question has prompted many discussions and debates over God's sovereignty and man's free will. In answering the question, I am aware of the stricter judgment that awaits me if I mishandle the word of God (Jas. 3:1). My passion is to always honor and glorify God and never misrepresent His character. Scripture reveals that our sovereign Lord not only chose to save certain sinners, but He also ordained the means by which He will convert them. God established His eternal decree to save His people when they hear and believe His Word (Rom. 10:13-17). It is for this reason the Lord of the Harvest commissioned His church to proclaim His Gospel. Every Christian has been given the awesome responsibility and highest privilege to call people to repent and trust Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
God Promises Success in Evangelism
As an evangelist, I have come to love the doctrine of election. There is a sense of relief knowing, that when I evangelize, the eternal destinies of souls are not dependent upon my persuasive ability to convert them. God guarantees success whenever His elect hear His Gospel. Jesus promised, "All that the Father gives me shall come to me" (John 6:37, 65). Not some, not most, but all. This sovereign act of God will eventually result in the conversion of those He has given to the Son. This occurred when Paul proclaimed the Gospel to the Gentiles in Antioch - "as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed" (Acts 13:48). The elect will come to Jesus as Christians proclaim the voice of the Good Shepherd. He promised that when His sheep hear His voice, they will follow Him (John 10:27).  Whenever Christians sow the imperishable seed of God's living Word, He promises to bring forth life when the seeds fall on fertile soil (1 Cor. 3:7; 1 Pet. 1:23). Success in evangelism is therefore guaranteed by God's sovereign decree. What an encouragement it is to know that God causes those whom He has chosen to come to Him (Psalm 65:4). Man can never thwart God's predetermined plan and purpose.
Doctrine of Election
Election, as defined in Scripture, tells us that God, in eternity past, before all things were created, chose specific individuals to be saved by His unmerited grace. He chose them according to the sovereign good pleasure of His own will. Paul wrote, "God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth" (2 Thes. 2:13). In another epistle Paul said, "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world" (Eph. 1:4). The Father chose His elect to be justified and totally glorified (Rom. 8:29-30). In a general sense God desires all men to be saved  (1 Tim. 2:4). However, He decreed to save only some, and then He wrote their names in the Lamb's Book of Life (Rev. 17:8).
If the choice were left up to man, no one would choose God. Paul makes this clear without exception, "There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God" (Rom. 3:11; Ps. 14:2-3). Clearly, rebellious sinners could never choose Christ on their own free will; they choose Christ because He first chose them (John 15:16). Why does God choose some and pass over others? His purpose is hidden in the secret counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11). God's purpose has been established, and He will accomplish it all for His good pleasure (Isa. 46:10).
Man's Inability to Choose God
Scripture presents a clear contrast between God who is able to save and man who is unable. Man's inability is due to the corruption of his nature and his rebellion and hatred of God (Heb. 7:25; Rom. 8:7; Eph. 2:1-7). God includes everyone in His invitations, but sinners exclude themselves because of their enslavement to sin. Their bondage to sin keeps them from coming to God. The Bible teaches that we are all born spiritually dead with a sin nature that corrupts our senses and limits our "free will." Opponents of divine election deny this and teach that man has the free will to choose God and come to Him for salvation. However, Scripture proves this is humanly impossible. We cannot know God (Mat. 11:27); we cannot please God (Rom. 8:8); we cannot see the light of the Gospel (2 Cor. 4:4); we cannot understand spiritual truths (1 Cor. 2:14); we cannot hear the Words of Christ (John 8:43); and we cannot come to Jesus (John 6:44).
The unregenerate man lives in the lusts of his flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and are by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2:3). Only when God causes the spiritually dead to come alive in Christ can they see, hear, know and understand the Gospel, and thus, come to Jesus in faith (Col. 2:13). No one can become a child of God by their own will or by the will of their flesh (John 1:13). There is nothing man can do on his own to be adopted into God's family. Only by God's will can anyone be brought forth through the word of truth (Jas 1:18). "So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy" (Rom. 9:16). Sovereign election underscores not only the inability of man but also the freedom of God to save sinners according to His own purpose and grace (Titus 3:5; 2 Tim. 1:9). Those who are not recipients of His grace will remain in bondage to sin, captive to their own fleshly desires and hostile towards God (Rom. 8:7).
A Doctrine Hotly Contested
Although divine election is clearly presented throughout Scripture, it remains one of the most hotly debated doctrines in church history. Christians who reject the biblical doctrine of election do so for one of the following reasons: 1) pride - they believe man has the free will to release himself  from the bondage and power of sin, and then come to Jesus; 2) man-centered evangelism - they enjoy taking credit for persuading people to "accept" Jesus; 3) fear - they refuse to accept that their loved ones may not belong to the elect; and 4) a distorted view of God - they say God is unjust by choosing to save some while passing over others. Paul anticipated these objections when he wrote, "Who are you, O man, who answers back to God...Does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use?" (Rom. 9:19-23). Is man so prideful that, as a depraved sinner, he has a  better plan than an infinitely holy and eternally righteous God? Scripture soundly rebukes this foolish idea! "'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," declares the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts'" (Isa. 55:8-9). Those who deny election are usurping God of His absolute control over His creation and the right to choose His own family. They wittingly or unwittingly rob God of His glory, which is a dangerous position to take.

God does not treat everyone the same, but He does treat everyone justly. Some receive justice, which they deserve, and some receive mercy, which they don't deserve (Rom. 9:15). Election does not mean that God chose some for heaven and some for hell. Every passage of the Bible that reveals divine election deals with it in the context of salvation, not damnation. Nowhere is anyone elected for hell. The only support for such a view is human logic, not Scripture. Clearly, all of us deserve the eternal fires of hell as the just punishment for our sin. People end up in hell because they rebelled against their Holy God and Creator. It is not man's love for God that is the motivating factor behind anyone being saved but God’s amazing, unfathomable love for fallen man (Rom. 5:8; 1 John 3:1). We must never forget that God is glorified both when His righteous justice is executed on sinners as well as when His mercy is graciously bestowed on the elect. "Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou alone art holy...for Thy righteous acts have been revealed" (Rev. 15:4).
Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility
God is sovereign, but He made man responsible for his actions. To some, this appears to be a paradox. The two subjects are often set in opposition to each other rather than harmonized together. Both are true and both are found in the Word of God. We see that all men are held responsible for what they believe. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life...He who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:16, 18). Yet we also hear Jesus saying, "You do not believe because you are not my sheep" (John 10:26).

The harmony of these two subjects are hidden somewhere in the infinite mind of God. They stretch man's ability to comprehend the perfect purpose of God (Ecc. 11:5). This is good, since it gives us a greater desire to know Him and, in turn, it causes us to dig deeper into His Word.  We must praise God for who He is and honor Him for His sovereign grace.   
Motivations to Proclaim the Gospel
We must be diligent in proclaiming the Gospel because God is pleased to save those who believe it as His Spirit works in their hearts. The faithful Christian knows that God is in control and He moves us to do the work He has prepared for us. We evangelize because we are sent by God to reconcile the world to Himself through Christ. What a royal privilege it is to represent the King of kings as His ambassadors to a lost and dying world. Like Paul, we must "endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory" (2 Tim. 2:10). It is true we do not know who the chosen ones are, but we do know this: "Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved" (Rom. 10:13). We also know that people will believe the Gospel as the Spirit of Truth reveals it's glory and illuminates the Word to them. 

The answer to "why evangelize?" is very simple - obedience! God has commissioned His saints to call the lost sheep to the Shepherd. No longer thundering from the mountain or from the burning bush, He uses Christians to accomplish His task of getting His Word to the elect. In closing, let us be motivated with this encouraging thought: Divine election is like a net cast into the sea - it does not drive the fish away, but draws them in. This should inspire us all to cast out the Gospel net more faithfully for God's glory!